Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Forty Years #35: Time for a Change

I wish I kept better track of dates but I believe it was 1988 when I stopped doing commissioned and commercial calligraphy. I made the choice for creative reasons but the business side of things had dwindled for me after our move from the Lowell area to Newburyport despite a lot of effort on my part. It was also the time that desktop publishing was beginning to take off and people were using their personal computers to create certificates and invitations. I wrote and shared this:

I have begun to do work that pleases me. For the first time, it is truly mine (text, calligraphy, & design). It is very personal, but also seems to speak to and for a lot of people. I feel strongly that I have something to offer & want to use all my time and energy to creates & promote my own work. To that end, I am no longer doing any commissioned work. 

At this point, my creative work still had calligraphy as its base. Over the next few years, I entered the world of handmade books and taught bookmaking, first to adults in workshops called Artmaking for Everyone: Simple Handmade Books and then to children in schools. At first look back, it seems I was particularly harsh in my separation. I began to call myself a book artist and didn’t mention the word calligraphy at all. Remembering more deeply, I think I needed to. People would introduce me as a calligrapher. People would talk wistfully about the work I used to do. I had to suppress my natural desire to please. It took a lot of energy not to make exceptions and stick to my plan. In my Artmaking for Everyone classes, students would lament that their books didn’t look as nice as mine because they couldn’t do calligraphy so I stopped using it. It had been a slow drift which became decisive. I was slowly on my way to becoming the “originating artist” Jenny had described.

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